By ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. – In a match that was much closer than the last time these teams met, the U.S. Under-23 national team battled to a hard fought 1-1 draw against the U.S. national team on Tuesday evening at the Home Depot Center Complex.
Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi scored the lone goal for the senior team, which took an early lead before Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney equalized midway through the first half. Benny Feilhaber delivered the assist on Zusi's goal, his second in two scrimmages against the U-23s.
After the goal, the U-23 team settled into the match and began to put pressure on Jurgen Klinsmann's senior team. Far improved from its 4-0 defeat to the senior team last Friday, the U-23 team was able to break through in the 36th minute when McInerney headed in a Dilly Duka corner kick. With their final tune-up complete before a pair of matches in Costa Rica, the U-23s were pleased with their progress.
"We wanted to make sure that we were a little more balanced team [defensively] so when we lose the ball, we have better shape and we did much better his game," said U-23 head coach Caleb Porter. "We also continued to work on the ball circulation and possession as well as controlling the game there. I thought we could have been more lethal around goal, but those details gel later."
Senior team: Nick Rimando (Sean Johnson 45'); AJ DeLaGarza (Zach Loyd 45'), Michael Parkhurst (Jeff Parke 45'), Geoff Cameron, Heath Pearce ; Jeff Larentowicz, (Ricardo Clark 45') Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi (Brad Evans 45'), Benny Feilhaber (Teal Bunbury 45'), Brek Shea; Chris Wondolowski (CJ Sapong 45')
Under-23s: Bill Hamid (Zac MacMath 45'); Kofi Sarkodie (Sheanon Williams 45'), Zarek Valentin (Royal-Dominique Fennell 45'), Sebastien Ibeagha (Andrew Wenger 45'), Jorge Villafana (Mike Stephens 45'); Amobi Okugo (Sebastien Lletget 45'), Jared Jeffery (Mix Diskerud 45'), Dilly Duka (Isaac Acuna 45'); Freddy Adu (Kelyn Rowe 45'), Teal Bunbury (Tony Taylor 45'), Jack McInerney (Joe Corona 45')
Juan Agudelo once again missed the training after spraining his right ankle during Friday's scrimmage. The New York Red Bulls forward is still awaiting diagnosis of his injury after an MRI on Tuesday, but was spotted walking with aid of a boot on his right foot. Agudelo expects the boot to be taken off in a matter of days.
Teal Bunbury appeared in a central forward role for both the U-23s and the senior team. The Sporting Kansas City forward was at his best while with the U-23s, making a pair of positive runs only to see them called offside or stopped by goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Geoff Cameron went the distance for the senior squad for the second straight friendly. Playing in central defense, Cameron was composed in distributing the ball forward while also preventing numerous chances for the U-23s.
Joe Corona was one of the highlights for the U-23 side, playing in the midfield during the scrimmage. Less than 24 hours after winning the Mexican Rookie of the Year award, Corona played on the right side of Porter's 4-3-3, and the Club Tijuana forward was dangerous in attack and frequently tested Zach Loyd.
Tony Taylor once again equipped himself well during the scrimmage, creating several opportunities after coming on for the second half. Taylor's finest opportunity came after a slick pass from Andrew Wenger, who also enjoyed a solid game in the back.
Perhaps one of the most entertaining moments of the match was midway through the second half when Seabastian Lletget battled with Jermaine Jones for a ball in the midfield. The burly Jones refused to be taken by the smaller Lletget and carried the West Ham midfielder for several yards before being dragged down for a foul.
Michael Stephens, the winner of the U-23s' "beep test" exercise, appeared at left back, a position he admitted he had not played since his time with the U.S. U-17 national team. Stephens was solid despite being targeted by C.J. Sapong.
Josh Gatt is returning to Norway to re-join his club team Molde after injuring his right ankle during training on Sunday. Gatt did not participate in Tuesday's scrimmage.